By Derrick Goold
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Six Cardinals filed for free agency Thursday: shortstop Cesar Izturis, catcher Jason LaRue, righthander Braden Looper, infielder Felipe Lopez, righthander Russ Springer and lefthander Ron Villone.
Although filing is a formality, the players' return to the Cards likely will depend on the team's interest in keeping them.
The team has identified the middle infield as a place to improve offensively, and though open to Izturis' return will explore its options. Manager Tony La Russa has expressed in an interest in having Lopez back.
The Cardinals' interest in any starting pitcher, including Looper, will hinge on the health of Chris Carpenter. The team has five starters under contract already.
Springer recently told the Post-Dispatch he is leaning toward pitching again in 2009 and would prefer to return to the Cardinals. The team also will look at other lefthanded relievers on the market before deciding on Villone.
In Detroit on Thursday, the Tigers officially severed ties with shortstop Edgar Renteria, buying out his option for the 2009 season. That makes him a free agent after a relatively disappointing season with the Tigers in which he batted .270, after a .332 campaign in 2007.
Other intriguing or familiar players who filed for free agency on Thursday included:
* Shortstop David Eckstein, who will likely entertain offers to play second base.
* LHPs Will Ohman, Eddie Guardado, Brian Shouse, Jeremy Affeldt, Joe Beimel and Oliver Perez.
* OFs Jim Edmonds, Manny Ramirez, Bobby Abreu and Raul Ibanez.
* Cubs righthanders Ryan Dempster and Bob Howry.
* RHPs Derek Lowe, Ben Sheets and Jason Jennings.
* INFs Mark Loretta and Mark Grudzielanek.